Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) in 2001:
The Democratic leadership pleaded with me at length to agree to support the idea that the Clinton Health Care bill should be included in that year’s reconciliation package.
President Clinton got on the phone and called me also and pressed me to allow his massive health care bill to be insulated by reconciliation’s protection.
I felt the changes as dramatic as the Clinton health care package, which would affect every man, woman, and child in the United States, should be subject to scrutiny. I said Mr. President, I cannot in good conscience turn my face the other way. That’s why we have a Senate: to amend and to debate freely. And that health bill, important as it is, is so complex, so far reaching, that the people of this country need to know what’s in it, and moreover Mr. President, we senators need to know what’s in it before we vote. And he accepted that. He accepted that, thanked me, and we said goodbye.
I could not, I would not, and did not allow that package to be handled in such a cavalier manner. It was the threat of the use of the Byrd rule.
Reconciliation was never, never, never intended to be a shield, to be used as a shield for controversial legislation.